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Steinberg: Hoosierland women! Send your little visitor to Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence / AP

It’s a shame that so much attention is going to North Carolina’s new law cruelly scrapping all of their state’s local local anti-discrimination ordinances and raising the specter of police bursting into bathrooms to check on the birth genders of the people using them.

The latest development there is that not only are major businesses like the NBA, PayPal and IBM lining up to condemn the law and question whether they want to do business with the state, but now the Obama administration is saying that the Tar Heels bigotry-empowerment act could endanger billions of dollars in federal aid, which can be withheld from backwaters that choose to indulge in un-American discrimination.

As satisfying as all that is, it shouldn’t distract us from the aftershocks rolling across our own little bit of the Southland in the Midwest, Indiana. There Gov. Mike Pence signed a truly medieval  law demanding, among other things, that aborted fetuses be given formal funerals or cremations, and if you think Indiana woman just shrugged and sighed and went back to their washboards and their sad irons, well, think again..

Rebellious Indiana women, waking up to this attempt to shove them back into the early 20th century, have created a “Periods for Pence” Facebook page, sharing the governor’s public comment phone number and urging women to keep the Pence informed about their menstrual cycle, since he seems so concerned, including some (apparently) real life exchanges such as:

Me: “Good morning. I just wanted to call and let the good Governor know that I am still not pregnant, since he seems to be so worried about women’s reproductive rights.”
Irritated lady on the other end of the phone: “And can I get your name, please?”
Me: “Sure, it’s Not Pregnant Laura.”

and

Just got through to Governor Pence’s office. (The operator must be on break.)
Me: Hi, is this the operator, or the Governor’s office?
Them: Um, this is the office, but I am covering for the operator right now.
Me: “Oh, good. I need to get a message to the Governor that I am on day three of my period. My flow seems abnormally heavy, but my cramps are much better to–”
Them: (Seriously pissed and trying to keep their voice down, but not quite succeeding) MA’AM, WHAT IS IT THAT I CAN HELP YOU WITH?
Me: Oh, I don’t need your help, I just wanted to keep Governor Pence informed of my reproductive cycle, since he seems so concerned.
Them: “Ugh.” *click*

Not to tell women what to do — Indiana seems to have a lock on that — but it seems to me that phone calls are a good start, but they are only the beginning. Given that menstruation could be construed as the ending of a nascent life, and given the state of Indiana’s obvious legislative interest in what happens to those lives, that the only thing a law-abiding Hoosier woman could do is send her used sanitary products to Gov. Pence’s office for proper burial. I’m sure he would appreciate that. His address is:

Office of the Governor
Statehouse
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2797

This is more a wry notion than a practical suggestion, but if you feel moved to do it, there are complicated postal codes regarding the labeling and packaging of biological materials sent through the U.S. mail. I would draw your attention to them, and of course wouldn’t suggest that anybody do anything outside of the limits of the law. A fresh tampon and a red marker would make the point just as eloquently, not that anybody in Gov. Pence’s office is listening.